Bourdain Should Not Come To Anchorage

I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel.  The cinematography is incredible, Bourdain’s commentary is consistently good, and I tend to walk away from every episode wanting to go to the places he visits.  From Livingston, Montana to The Azores or even the Maine episode there is a care and intentional quality to every episode.

In a recent episode he sought to visit U.S. cities that aren’t normally thought of for their culture or food.  On the list were Detroit, Milwaukie, Minneapolis, Denver, Austin (which in my opinion doesn’t fit the lack of culture category) and Columbus, OH.  While eating street food in Denver, Anthony is given an Alaskan Reindeer Sausage hot dog and he makes a snide comment, as he’s prone to do, about it being the only good thing to come out of Alaska.  Despite watching it on my DVR on my time, when he said that I could hear the Anchorage and Alaskan travel industry people firing up their campaigns to get Bourdain to visit Anchorage.  Over the past year we’ve had Man vs. Food and whatever the diner show is come to Alaska.

I know I’ve been accused of being an instigator before, and I’m sure this could be considered instigating, but I don’t think Anthony Bourdain should come to Anchorage.  Anchorage has some great restaurants and, in general, it feels like the city values Moose’s Tooth Pizzeria or Snow City Cafe over national chains.  But there is very little that is unique to Anchorage.

And it’s not our fault.  Afterall with a relatively brief history (Anchorage really didn’t exist as a city until the early 1920s) and a population made up largely of people from other parts of the state, the U.S. and the World, Anchorage is still figuring out what Anchorage food is.  While most restaurants have some sort of reindeer sausage omelet or buffalo or fresh salmon or halibut, largely they are inspired by Pacific Northwest restaurants or even places from the South. Perhaps one of the most damning lines of reasoning is how crazy and excited people get whenever someone refreshes the old rumor that Olive Garden will be opening in Anchorage.

The state as a whole is a different story, and I guess if No Reservations decided to visit rural Alaska and taste whale blubber or other scary foods, but I feel like that’s been done and I think that Bourdain’s show is above the “Alaska Week” thing.

To make up for my criticism, I now will highlight just a few Anchorage restaurants I love:

Spenard Roadhouse, Villa Nova, Glacier Brewhouse, Bear Tooth Grill, Humpys, Orso…there, satisfied?

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

– Anthony Bourdain

Who Should Replace Steve Carell on The Office?

10. Parker Posey (Great for mockumentaries; see Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman)

9. Maura Tierney

8. Sean William Scott

7. Queen Latifah (yes, seriously)

6. David Wallace/Andy Buckley (His breakdown was classic)

5. Richard Schiff (Played grumpy, I miss Toby)

4. Eric Estrada (Why not?)

3. Luke Wilson (Played with naivety, of course)

2. Rob Lowe (Similar character to his guest appearance on Parks and Rec)  […apparently he’s already on TV on a show I don’t watch]

1. Jason Bateman (Played straight ala Michael Bluth)

Disclaimer: I don’t own rights to any images used in this post, but no one reads this so your property is safe.

I Prefer My TV in 3D over HD

I’m convinced that someday soon, I’ll get on the HD train and buy a high definition TV…but for now I’m convinced that 3D TV has way more value than HD TV. What do I mean by 3D TV? Television with three dimensions. No, not the goofy glasses with one blue and one red “lens.” I’m talking about stories that go deeper than shallow characters and linear plot lines. I learned early in my days of dabbling in fiction that there are really only 5 basic conflicts from which to base fiction. Man vs. Man, Man vs. Himself, Man vs. God, Man vs. The World, Man vs. Nature. Three dimensional television should creatively wrap 3 or more of those conflicts together at the same time. My favorite show on TV right now is LOST and I think you can make the statement that all five conflicts are playing out on and off the island before and after the crash of flight 815. It’s creative enough and the characters are developed well enough to sustain the tangle of conflicts. Comedies, sit coms especially can get away with humor surrounding a premise and with an electric enough cast and good enough writers, can ride a premise for season after season without needing to tangle conflicts. I just caught up on the latest episodes of Life and it’s proven that it can successfully meld at least three of the conflicts together. I’ve thought of it before, but I thought I would try and put words to it. A good story, good character development and elements of our real world mixed with a world we don’t live in (figuratively or literally) will always win out over any effect made more special by high definition television. I support the writers in the WGA and their strike, even as it affects shows I love, because there are story elements, characters, conficts and magic that studio heads, special effects designers, and executive producers can’t begin to dream up.

Chuck is Lost?

I confirmed by rewinding with my Tivo, but at first I thought I was hearing things… While watching a segment of Chuck in between extra innings of the Rockies Padres game, I overheard Chuck’s subconsious say “Ocean flight 815 was shot down.” They’re on different networks so it’s a little strange for a LOST reference, isn’t it? I’m not convinced Chuck is a good show, but Tivo is recording it every week for me just in case I decide to like it.

Not from Cincinnati Anymore

I withheld writing anything about the show because I was still trying to figure out enough about what was happening with it to make a coherent pitch. What I should have said weeks ago was “Watch John From Cincinnati!” HBO canceled the show, as networks continue to do to shows I like. The thing about JFC was that it was doing something very unique…but in the way that the show ended it’s first and only season, there are so many unanswered questions it’s not even worth discussing. It’s such a waste. The characters were intriguing, the storyline was Twin Peaksy, and with actors like Ed O’Neill [whose character Bill Jacks may have stolen the show], Bruce Greenwood, Rebecca DeMornay, Luis Guzman, Luke Perry (even the idea that Zach Morris and Dylan McKay shared the screen was intriguing), the dynamic Paul Ben-Victor (who joins a list of multi-show HBO veterans for his role on Entourage [Season 3]), and even Jennifer Grey. The story examines many people who are at the bottom of the list of people you would expect miracles to happen to. The mysterious character of John comes into their lives and only really tells people what they’re thinking, what others are thinking and to seek God. One character is raised from the ground, one character is raised from the dead, and all of the characters are actively feeling themselves change. I also thought it was interesting the way the characters all used labels for each other (the hairlip, the lawyer, the doctor, the chemist, the Hawaiian, the porn star, the skinny girl, and other not so nice labels too). It was fascinating and I’m sad to see it not coming back.

Imagine if other shows were cancelled after one season. Imagine the mythology of LOST ending with Jack and Locke looking down into the hatch. Imagine Friends ending with Rachel learning Ross loves her and not dragging the storyline on for 7 more years… Imagine The West Wing concluding with gunfire on the President and his staff but no resolution. Imagine 24 ending with Nina killing Teri Bauer. Imagine if the Sopranos ended anticlimactically with all four Sopranos sitting in a restaurant having dinner…oh wait.

Nothing in the new shows this year stands out as my next favorite TV show, so in the meantime I will continue to enjoy Entourage, Flight of the Conchords, Hard Knocks, and wait impatiently for LOST to return in February.

Speaking of LOST, some exciting stuff coming out of Comic-Con. I’ve always held back from writing about LOST on this blog, but it won’t take long to find info…don’t worry the producers are way too smart to let spoilers ruin anything for you.

YouTube Goes to the Source

Proving that search, online video and intelligent advertising aren’t their only strong suits, Google/YouTube have called for Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert to be deposed in the Viacom v. Youtube lawsuit. I’m no lawyer, but in my mind genius. Both Colbert and Stewart are “Producers” of their shows (Stewart of both) and if, as suspected, clips of the shows are knowingly uploaded to YouTube by members of the staff, the Producers will either have to admit it or imitate the politicians they love to mock so much by using the Reagan defense. Either way, it’s a page straight out of Aaron Sorkin’s story line.

Law: Did you order the clips to be uploaded?

Colbert: Do you want answers?

Law: I think I’m entitled.

Stewart: Do you want answers?

Law: I want the truth.

Viacom: You can’t handle the truth!

That’s right, I believe Google/YouTube are putting Jessep on the stand in a move to get the case dismissed. Again, I’m no lawyer, but my guess is it’ll probably work.